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I meant the maximum amount they judge to be financially prudent. Roughly speaking, an employer will only pay an employee up to the value of that employee's work.

Based on your reply, I'm sure I don't need to explain how markets work?

I don't think so, but I also don't understand the complaint you seem to have.

"Value of the employee's work" is determined by the market. So either you can get someone cheaper or you can't. Either you can run your billion dollar banking operation without them or you can't.

When I said "value of the employee's work," I meant the financial upside to the firm for hiring a specific employee.

There is always a shortage of people willing to cut the grass with scissors for $0.05 an hour. There is always a shortage of people (for any price) capable of running a large corporation successfully. The former you don't need, so you go without. The latter you do need, so you pay what they cost.

If there is a shortage worth complaining about, it implies there is a critical need (a large financial upside -- these articles make it sound like it's an existential requirement for the bank) for hiring an employee that knows Cobol. My point is that if the compensation scaled with that critical need, plenty of people would be picking up Cobol right now, just like plenty of people are honing their business management skills.

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